Running a business is one part vision, two parts tenacity, and three parts patience.
Seriously, when you’re putting everything into it and growth is painfully slow, it’s difficult not to question why you’re even doing it.
If you’re like most of the business owners we know, you’ve got your side of things nailed down. You know who you, what you do, and you’re fully capable of doing it better than most (if not all) of your competitors.
The problem is, your business (whatever it may be) is not the business of marketing.
So while you’re a veritable savant when it comes to recruitment, or law, or podiatry, or delicious Belgian beer, you have no clue how you’re supposed to make more people aware of you.
You’re looking for something that gets you seen, heard, noticed, and consistently attracts new clients or customers so you can GROW.
You know that ‘something’ is marketing of some description, but beyond that you’re at a loss.
Fortunately for you, we’re just as good at doing our thing as you are at doing yours. So we know, the answer is quite simple: CONTENT!
You’ve probably already guessed by now that you can’t, really, just start rambling about your products and services and expect people to buy them. No matter how good they are.
What you need is something called strategy. Specifically a content strategy. And no, you don’t need to do it on your own. As a matter of fact, you shouldn’t.
But what exactly is a content strategy? Why do you need one? And how do you choose the right content strategy for your business?
What The Hell Is Content?
Simply put, it’s the solid base for your future returns on investment.
But this is, of course, the simplified definition of content. We’ll get into more specific details in a second.
Let’s say that you have created an awesome product and feel ready to launch it on the market. Not knowing much about marketing and all that complicated stuff, you instantly think of the old world of advertisement, daydreaming about having your own commercial on tv or banner on buses.
Well, what you are thinking about is content.
Or, maybe, you think about writing a blog for people who are interested in your field: that is content.
You want to land a contract with a top influencer to post a picture of your product on their social media: that is content.
You see, content is an umbrella term for defining everything that will help you market your business and the services that you have to offer.
It comes in many shapes and forms and as such can be used to help you throughout all the stages of your marketing strategy in many ways.
Your content can come in the form of:
Video Marketing is one of the most popular forms of content. And it’s liked by all kinds of audiences. As a matter of fact, it seems to be one of customers’ favourite kind of content. What is video content?
It’s quite simply a concept through which your product gets video exposure. There’s no limit to what you can decide to film as a marketing strategy: you can choose to have someone try your product, or do a tour of your business, or even film a Q&A: it’s just a form of content that is passed onto the audiences through a video.
This is one of the most known and practiced forms of content marketing. It can come in all the shapes and forms permitted by the written word. It can be a simple caption you add to a social media post, it can be a white paper for your most recent product, it can even be the microscopic text that you put on one of the buttons on your website. Whatever you can write, can be used – and sold!- as content.
How many times have you stared in awe at the beauty of an advertisement billboard? Images are -and have always been- one of the most powerful tools to convey a message. If Michelangelo used the Sistine Chapel to tell the Pope to f*ck off, you can definitely use an image to sell your products to audiences.
This is one of the, probably, less used mediums. Think about the last time you heard a commercial on radio. That is an example of audio content.
And remember, all the types of content you can think of creating, no matter the platform you’re planning to use it on, can be sold. Or, even better, can be marketed.
And Why Do I Need It?
One of the best ways to explain why content marketing is essential to any business is by telling personal stories. You probably have a bunch of valuable anecdotes of a time when you were looking for something specific on the internet and ended up buying more stuff than you would like to admit after reading -or seeing, or watching…- something that resonated with you.
I’ll go first: I listen to podcasts. And I enjoy listening to them – yes, all the gore, true crime and paranormal stuff you can think of- while I prepare dinner and relax. Christine Schiefer, one of the loveliest podcast hosts around, frequently advertises a very famous meal subscription plan that I never thought of purchasing. Until the day when I actually decided to follow her lead and subscribe to it.
Christine meshed her own experience with said product with relevant information about it and a conspicuous discount code for her followers. Listening to her talking about all the delicious recipes she managed to do with a week’s worth of a subscription, all while managing a productive business activity had me considering giving it a try.
What did the trick for me? What convinced me? Well, for starters, I related to her when Christine talked about how busy she is and how these magical food boxes would save the day. True, I’m not the host of an award-winning true-crime podcast – yet-, but I surely am looking for ways to optimise the time I spend doing housework.
And I’m positive that I wasn’t the only one.
One of the key rules for content is that it must attract, engage and delight your audience, often converting it into customers.
Quite simply, you need content because nobody in their right mind will accept to spend whatever sum of money on something they know nothing about.
A Strategy: Aka “Don’t Go Barefoot Into Marketing”
Now you know about the miracles that some well written -and executed- content can do for your company, let’s start talking about the juicy part.
You see, you might be an exceptional fantasy writer, but it’s highly unlikely that someone will appreciate your hard work if you decide to talk about it at a fishing competition. When everyone is busy catching fishes.
All the content you decide to create for your marketing strategy has to be planned and optimised: you can’t, simply, write a catchy phrase and post it on your private Facebook profile at an odd time. Your audience will not be there! Through strategised content, you need to create leads and funnels that your customers will use to stay in contact with you and your business.
But there are several reasons why you should work on developing an efficient content strategy:
It Expresses Your Core Values Better…
Through a string of well-articulated content, your audience will get to understand your brand and its values better. And that is essential to building a consistent base of loyal customers!
It Creates Consistency…
Social Media made content accessible to anyone. And as amazing as it is, it’s also extremely demanding for businesses: customers will expect you to interact and post on a daily basis, consistently and in character. That’s because…
It Will Help Your Reputation!
Seeing you posting and talking about your field will quickly give you the status of a reliable source. Through content, people will reach out to you and ask for your opinion on related matters. You will be respected and your audience will be more likely to make a purchase – or to continue doing so. In “Gone With The Wind”, Rhett Butler says “With enough courage, you can do without a reputation” and as successful as he was in the movie, he wouldn’t have lasted long in nowadays’ marketing.
Find Out Your Strategy: What Does It Take?
Now, we made it quite clear: you need content and you need a strategy. A content strategy for your business. You know what it can do for you and how it could potentially make a difference from you going bankrupt or you having dinner with Elon Musk, but… How do you do this? What are the steps you need to take?
First, you need to remember that you are not alone. Sure, it’s best if you know what this is about, but nobody expects you to be able to cover any position in your business. You can, and should, be profiting from the services that marketing agencies can provide you with!
Where Are You Now? And Where Do You Want To Be?
The first step to a successful strategy is determining who you are, the stage you are at, and where you want to be in the future. Your goals.
Let’s start with a series of trivial examples that will accompany us in our journey through the perfect strategy: you started baking gluten-free cookies for your best friend and you realised that you’re actually really good at that. That’s why you’ve decided to invest and open a small gluten-free bakery that is able to supply 60 customers a day. Your goal is to attract new customers, nurture the ones you already have, and, in the future, expand your business.
With this in mind, you can start thinking about the next steps.
Who’s Your Target?
So, you have a gluten-free bakery. Awesome! Most likely, your customers are going to be people who don’t eat gluten for medical reasons, people who follow strict diets and friends who will purchase cookies from you that they plan to give to their friends who lead a gluten-free lifestyle.
Well, that was the easy step: you know what drives them to your activity. But who are they? Are they mostly male or female? Do they belong to a particular ethnic group? How old are they?
By knowing this, you will be able to know how to reach them.
Find Out Their Keywords…
We would never stop talking about the advantages of SEO, as it helps bring people to your website almost effortlessly – for you!.
But to do SEO you can’t just use random words and hope for the best: you must know -and try and foresee- what kind of words or phrases is your target audience going to look for on the internet when searching for your services. That way, you will be able to create relevant content that answers all of their questions without using aggressive outbound strategies.
Know Your Enemy…
One of the staples in marketing is knowing what your enemy -aka your competitor- does. You and your business are doing great, but your customers start complaining because they noticed that Ron, another gluten-free baker of the area, is organising giveaways on his bakery’s social media. Why aren’t you doing that? Emma, your loyal customer, is really saddened by this because she has many friends who would be likely to buy your product if you decided to advertise them properly! After all, Ron’s cookies are not as good as yours!
Maybe you knew about Ron’s plan and it doesn’t quite work for your brand’s identity. Or, maybe, you were extremely busy baking cookies and had completely forgotten to consider what your competitors were doing on social media. Well, don’t!
You don’t have to copy every step of your competitors’ strategy, but certainly, you have to be aware of what is working for them and try to personalise it for your brand.
Where To Post: Your Distribution Channels…
It’s a fact: every generation has its preferred social media. If you know the gross age of your ideal buyer persona, you will know better where to post your content. As a ground rule, don’t invest in platforms that nobody in your target audience is using. Sure, TikTok is fun but what if all of your ideal customers are on Facebook?
You would probably end up spending more than you can afford in creating content that won’t produce any ROI.
Follow Your Customers’ Journey…
You know your customers. Even better, you know your ideal customer: let’s say her name is Linda, she’s 45, she’s vegan and eats gluten-free for wellness purposes and mainly uses Facebook to connect with her friends from yoga. However perfect, Linda is not always in the mood for purchasing something: sometimes she might be just taking a look at your newest products. Or maybe she’s already found something that tickles her interest but she needs some further convincement.
These are two of the buyer’s journey steps and they both require different content. Quite unsurprisingly, of course. In the first stage, Linda needs to be shown the bigger picture, tempting her with the promise of healthy, delicious and ethically sustainable cookies. In the second, you will need to tell her more about your products: for example, you will need to tell her that you only use fair trade, organic sustainable raw cocoa.
In the final stage, you will show gratitude for the support she has decided to give you and invite her to take a further look in the following weeks.
Content needs to be adapted, otherwise, it’s not strategised.
Plan It. Thoroughly.
It’s true, sometimes the best ideas strike when you least expect them to. But a good content strategy needs some long term planning.
Planned content will help you develop consistency and it will make it easier for you not to post low-quality stuff all over the internet.
Sell And Tell!
Don’t be afraid to tell a story. People love to listen to anecdotes and stories, especially if they can relate to them.
The content you will use for your business doesn’t need to be a constant, aggressive, series of slogans: it needs to be authentic and relatable to your audience.
One story that Linda, your ideal buyer’s persona, would love to read is how you’ve decided to improve your diets and stop eating gluten.
Or she might be interested in learning the story behind your top-selling cookies.
You get it: tell a story and use it to muster your sales.
Work On Your Credibility…
Develop relevant content that anyone in your business field can profit from. If you are building a strategy that’s directed to other businesses, you might want to work on publishing white papers and case studies, if you are aiming at customers you might want to improve your blog!
Work on anything that will make it look like your opinion matters because you are the best at what you do.
Take An Extra Step: Ask For Help!
One of the things we tried to clarify is that developing a content strategy is no joke. And, as good as you are as a gluten-free baker – or IT Consultant, or wellness professional- you probably don’t know the darndest thing about content marketing and copywriting. Would you risk the future of your business over something that can be solved in a few emails?
Give us a call or send us an email and book your free consultation. Let’s build you a bomb content strategy, shall we?